Ammonium hydroxide (NH4OH) is a solution of ammonia in water. Commonly called ammonia or ammonia water, the chemical is used as a cleanser and in manufacturing plastics, rubber, fertilizer and textiles.
It's a colorless, clear liquid with a pungent-to-faint ammonia odor. Stable under normal temperatures and pressures, heating it produces ammonia gas. The chemical is incompatible with acids, hypochlorites, halogens, sodium hydroxide, galvanized surfaces and strong oxidizing agents, plus metals and their alloys.
Contact with eyes may result in ulceration of the conjunctiva and cornea, eye burns and temporary loss of sight. Ammonium hydroxide causes skin irritation; contact can lead to severe irritation and burns. Ingestion can cause vomiting, nausea, gastric irritation and, in severe cases, perforation, central nervous system depression, shock, convulsions and pulmonary edema.
If inhaled, mild exposure can cause nose irritation (sneezing, coughing). Exposure to high concentrations may cause pulmonary edema, shock, convulsions, cyanosis or central nervous system depression. Chronic exposure may cause bronchitis, conjunctivitis or dermatitis.
Engineering controls should provide local fume exhaust and/or general dilution ventilation.
Personal Protective Equipment
Wear splash-proof safety goggles. Install an emergency eye wash unit in the immediate area. Do not wear contact lenses when working with ammonium hydroxide. Wear appropriate gloves and protective clothing to prevent skin contact.
No respiratory protection is required when working with this chemical under an appropriate fume hood. If the ammonium hydroxide airborne concentration is 300 ppm or higher, wear a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) with full facepiece.
Store the chemical in capped, glass or plastic containers protected from heat and incompatible substances. Thoroughly wash after handling. Avoid breathing dust, vapor, mist or gas.
Fire Fighting Measures
If possible, move the storage container away from fire. Ammonium hydroxide is not a flammable liquid; however, ammonia gas is flammable. The gas is an eye, skin and respiratory irritant. For small fires, use dry chemical, carbon dioxide, water spray or alcohol-resistant foam extinguishers. Wear appropriate protective clothing to prevent contact with skin and eyes.